Event Title

Mental Health in Gilded Age New Mexico

Location

Bobo Room, Hodgin Hall, Third Floor

Start Date

8-11-2017 2:15 PM

End Date

8-11-2017 3:15 PM

Description

New Mexico has a problem with mental illness. Having trouble solving the problem is nothing new. In 1889, a single piece of territorial legislation created UNM to help citizens engage scholarship, a tech school so we would learn how to support industry, a prison to punish lawbreakers, and the New Mexico Insane Asylum to segregate people unfit for the streets. Lawmakers were developing New Mexico’s institutions in order to help make the case for statehood. Having institutions in place to treat people deemed “insane” was important to legislators then, as it is now. There were conflicting agendas for mental health care in Gilded Age New Mexico. Politicians wanted the “insane” off the streets, psychiatrists who were in their early days of professionalization wanted to assert professional authority, and patients wanted to get treatment and go home. Each group had justifiable expectations that led to conflicts over care. Looking into the archival records, we see a society that was uncertain of what insanity was, like today. We also see law enforcement pushed by legislators to solve societal problems outside of their expertise, also like today. Furthermore, we see psychiatrists and patients in conflict over what care regimens should look like, similar to the challenge presented by the revolving doors of mental health facilities that professionals are challenged by now. In order to resolve New Mexico’s mental health crisis, we need to reflect on past interventions, whether from medicine, law enforcement, or policy makers, to identify strategies that will satisfy the needs of all involved.

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Nov 8th, 2:15 PM Nov 8th, 3:15 PM

Mental Health in Gilded Age New Mexico

Bobo Room, Hodgin Hall, Third Floor

New Mexico has a problem with mental illness. Having trouble solving the problem is nothing new. In 1889, a single piece of territorial legislation created UNM to help citizens engage scholarship, a tech school so we would learn how to support industry, a prison to punish lawbreakers, and the New Mexico Insane Asylum to segregate people unfit for the streets. Lawmakers were developing New Mexico’s institutions in order to help make the case for statehood. Having institutions in place to treat people deemed “insane” was important to legislators then, as it is now. There were conflicting agendas for mental health care in Gilded Age New Mexico. Politicians wanted the “insane” off the streets, psychiatrists who were in their early days of professionalization wanted to assert professional authority, and patients wanted to get treatment and go home. Each group had justifiable expectations that led to conflicts over care. Looking into the archival records, we see a society that was uncertain of what insanity was, like today. We also see law enforcement pushed by legislators to solve societal problems outside of their expertise, also like today. Furthermore, we see psychiatrists and patients in conflict over what care regimens should look like, similar to the challenge presented by the revolving doors of mental health facilities that professionals are challenged by now. In order to resolve New Mexico’s mental health crisis, we need to reflect on past interventions, whether from medicine, law enforcement, or policy makers, to identify strategies that will satisfy the needs of all involved.